This article by Carl Trueman is really worth a read if you’re a Christian who blogs, tweets, instagrams, or just someone who logs on to facebook more than once a day! I flag it up not simply because it’s interesting, but because those of us who do the above, myself included, probably need to hear it.
I think Trueman is particularly on the money when he discerns the danger that the blogosphere/FB newsfeed/constant refreshing of Twitter brings of focusing us on public performance, of breeding a mindset where we’re obsessed with the image we’re giving off to others. In contrast, spending time without constant connection helps Christians face the reality that ultimately what matters is God’s verdict of us, which should prompt true self-awareness and real humility. As Trueman says:
Solitude also helps prevent our lives becoming a permanent public performance. Constant public performing, from Youtube to blogs to Twitter, is a way of life for many people today. Now, public performing can be fun; it can also be helpful. Every book, every sermon, every lecture, every article, is a public action, a public performance. But so is every banal tweet and idiotic thread comment…
…One’s Christian character can be measured by many things. I would suggest that one of the least noted is one’s ability to be alone with only oneself and God. The hyperconnectivity of the current world seems to mean that it might actually possible to live for very long periods of time and never be alone, always be talking or connecting with someone, always be performing for third parties or passively consuming the performance of others. Pascal would have dismissed all of this as distraction or diversion, designed to prevent us from facing up to ourselves, our mortality and God’s final judgment upon our lives.
Back in April I wrote about how I’d particularly felt this after getting into the Instagram app. I found myself increasingly tempted to focus on what image I was giving off, quite literally. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not for a minute suggesting we carve out a commandment along the lines of ‘Christians shouldn’t tweet/blog/change their status regularly’. You don’t need to have been a Christian for a while to know that a law won’t change our hearts, and let’s not be mistaken, it’s the heart, rather than any social networking site, where the real problem lies.